By all accounts it has been a very busy term for our students catching up on lost class-time and practicals. They are delighted with their progress and excited about getting ready for their final exams which will hopefully take place in April/May 2021.
The PROTECT staff report that the Mulango Training Institute is adhering very well to the Covid19 restrictions imposed by the Kenyan Government and their students are coping well with the constraints. Every effort was made by the training institute authorities to provide our staff with all the health and safety measures required to be compliant with the regulations. The students are delighted to have their mentoring session restored and the staff are also delighted with being able to work closely with them.
The students and parents were delighted with the surprise delivery of face masks that were so kindly sent by CBE, the masks are of beautiful quality and we intend to provide each family member with one as a Christmas gift.
The staff have planned to have a joint meeting with students, their parents and guardians and have a little Christmas celebration providing them with fruit, milk, yogurt, biscuits, cake and of course the CBE face masks, all of which will be so much appreciated.
Final year students returning to Mulango Training Institute.
At one point the Kenyan authorities were predicting that schools would not reopen until 2021 and that all students would repeat their previous year of study but that changed, and exam students were allowed back to school on 26 October. Our students were delighted to return to school and meet up with all their friends and continue with their studies.
The academic year has now changed due to the pandemic and December 2020 examinations are now scheduled to take place in April 2021. The PROTECT staff meet with each student every week in a mentoring capacity and conduct parental trainings biweekly, always being conscientious about maintaining the highest standards of health and safety for all concerned.
According to one of the students, being back at school is much more enjoyable than working hard in the shambas planting and weeding and of course meeting up again with friends is wonderful. However, the students find continuous wearing of mask very difficult and social distancing is also a challenge for them, but they are really making tremendous efforts to be compliant. They are also very happy that the PROTECT staff are meeting with them every week and bringing them some goodies. The study is also going well, and the students are really catching up on the missed lessons and will be taking their final exams in April 2021.
The school administration has made great efforts in providing hand washing facilities and social distancing and are very strict on correct mask wearing. Congratulations to them in being so diligent.
Partial lifting of COVID19 restrictions.
Luck was on our side when in July, the Kenyan Government gave permission for small groups of people to meet outdoors and this created lots of enthusiasm for the children and parents to come together for their life skills and parental trainings. They were once more bonded together by meeting one another and sharing their experiences. It also gave the staff a chance to meet individually with the students and give them whatever support they needed.
The students accomplished many worthwhile activities during lockdown earning some money which was appreciated within their households during a time of hardship. One young boy made and sold bricks to a local builder and the money was used to buy iron sheets to roof a room in their house. Another boy who is studying Construction and Masonry added a room to the family home. One of the girls gave lots of time helping her guardian with her new-born baby and helped on the shamba (small farm). Everybody was so happy with their accomplishments and they also continued with their studies and revision.
Sometimes life was tough for the post-trained youths as work was scarce and they had to use up some of their savings to survive. The staff kept in regular contact and provided advice and psychological support to them which they appreciated very much. During the difficult months of Covid19 the youths appreciated the importance of having been saving on a regular basis as part of their post-trained mentoring.
At home here we missed having The Annual Tom Waldron 5K Run during August due to Covid19 restrictions and this event was missed by all our supporters. Let us hope and pray that August 2021 will see everyone up and running again.
There was much celebration in the office with the arrival of a beautiful new Skygo motorbike that was donated by a truly kind and generous supporter of PROTECT. Thank you so much, we really appreciate your thoughtfulness, and it will make our work and life so much easier. Go raibh mile maith agat / Asante sana na nashukuru.
Unfortunately, Covid19 made itself known on 13th March and the Kenyan Government were extremely fast to introduce restrictions throughout the country and one such included the closure of all schools during March. The students involved in PROTECT programmes went home to their parents and our staff immediately began to create innovative methods of staying in contact, mentoring, and supporting students and parents.
Fortunately, the April school holiday timetable of activities had been drawn up by the staff and this helped the students to put structure on their days. The downside was that the group life skills and parental trainings could not take place but the staff ensured that phone contact was made with each student and parent every week and this proved very supportive and encouraging for everyone. Every phone call brought with it the importance of prevention strategies against the virus.
Covid19 restrictions brought about many changes in our office communication systems and with it a new learning curve in technology. Working from home brought with it beneficial office practices albeit some frustrations along the way. WhatsApp, Team Viewer and WeTransfer were life savers for us particularly when I was at home here in Ireland and needed to be in touch with the office every day. Mile buiochas dóibh.
Our big disappointment during April was missing our 11th Good Friday Walk and everybody missed that lovely annual occasion and let us hope and pray that life will have returned to some form of normality by next Good Friday, 2nd April 2021.
This Easter will be different to those in the past and it is our wish that everyone will be safe and care for each other.
Pasaka njema kwa kila mtu, Happy Easter everyone.
January 2020 saw four students returning to Mulango Training Institute to complete their final year of vocational skills training in masonry and electrical wiring. Two new girls also joined to undertake a one-year course in Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy. Both girls are the first in her families to have been removed from child labour and receive full time education.
The new students settled in very well and the second years were very helpful in mentoring them. The teacher’s reports for all students was positive and encouraging and the students were delighted with their progress.
Claremorris Artists providing Art Workshops for students and their parents.
February brought a very new experience for both the students and their parents. Two Claremorris artists, Norah Brennan and Anna Dixon came all the way to Kitui to undertake a two-week Art and Crafts workshop with our students and their parents. The ladies brought with them lots of art materials donated by fellow artists from Claremorris which were so much appreciated by all of us.
It was a brilliant experience for everyone and the comments of the participants are testimony to this., “I’m not afraid to try new things and draw from my mind”; “I’m really delighted with my drawings”; “It really bonded our group together”; “It helped to increase my self-confidence” and the work produced was simply amazing.
Further showing their love for art, both students and parents have set up their individual Art Clubs and I have no doubt that they will put the donated paints and acrylics to good use and have many hours of enjoyment in the pursuit of their art.